It’s not every day that I get to chat with other erotica writers, especially those who focus solely on our favorite thing. There is one, however, R. T. Denom, who released his first full spanking novel Boarding House last year.
Mr. Denom was actually one of my first true spanko friends, after I niched down and away from the wider BDSM scene. (And I will tell you first hand, that man is a traditionalist! 😳) I asked if he’d be willing to talk to all of us about his book and he said YESSSSS! Happy happy happy, joy joy joy.
So, what’s it like to be a legit spanko novelist? Let’s lean all the way and find out…
Sweet Tea: I am THRILLED to chat with you on this fine day, Mister Magnificent Author R. T. Denom.
R. T. Denom: Thank you! I really enjoy your writing and your blog. You are such an important voice for our community and always bring an interesting, fresh perspective. I appreciate this opportunity to be interviewed by you.
ST: Huge congrats on publishing your spanko novel Boarding House. That's quite the accomplishment. How do you feel now that it's done? Was it like having a baby?
RTD: Publishing the book felt great. I’m glad it’s finally done and out in the world. It feels a little vulnerable, which has to be pretty common, especially when you’re writing niche erotica. I’ve published short stories in the same genre, but this is my first novel.
It was a Covid project for me. The initial writing process was just three months, but I sat on it for over a year before going back to make final edits. I don’t think I’ll take that long of a break next time, but it did validate things for me. I was able to see it with fresh eyes and enjoyed it. I’m curious to see how people will respond.
I don't know what it’s like to have a baby, but I sure hope I wouldn’t put it on the shelf for a year.
ST: Yes, I would also hope not. Can you give our readers a basic plot description? I'd take a crack at it, but I don't want to give too much away.
RTD: The book centers around a boarding house in a college town in 2005. Most of the residents are in their 20s and either in graduate school or working their first jobs. The house is warm and inviting, in large part to its caretakers, a middle-aged couple that are affectionately referred to as Mom and Pop. Many assume they got their name from the small grocery store they operate, but it’s also because of the role they play within the house. They’re nurturing and supportive, yet they also hold the residents accountable. It’s a unique living situation, but one the members are drawn to. The cheap rent, abundant food, and ability to live in a large house are all attractive factors, but deep down the residents are looking for something more.
Told from the various perspectives of those who live in the house, the plot centers around the arrival of a striking young woman named Laurie. During her interview to become a member of the house, she learns that what she has heard is true. Mom and Pop don’t just provide accountability when you break a rule… they discipline you. Outsiders would be shocked if they knew how the residents were disciplined, which is why privacy and the code of conduct is taken so seriously. Because when it comes to discipline, Mom and Pop are big believers in the power of a good old-fashioned spanking. It’s something every applicant must agree to before they are permitted to reside in the house.
ST: Good golly, Mom and Pop believe in SPANKINGS? For full-grown adults?
RTD: Yup. The spankings aren’t done in private either. To provide full transparency, and also because Mom and Pop are big believers in deterring others from making the same mistakes, rule breakers are spanked in front of the entire house. Nothing is left to the imagination either, as Mom and Pop like to spank on the bare.
ST: On the BARE?! In front of OTHER PEOPLE?!?! This is a highly scandalous premise.
RTD: Well, Mom and Pop claim they spank because they believe it works for adults. The residents will say that they were having trouble focusing or living up to their potential and need the structure. But… is that the whole story? And what happens if some of them really enjoy it?
ST: I think readers will just have to find out for themselves! What I like about the plot, aside from the obvious (domestic discipline, om nom nom), is how the characters who stay at the boarding house struggle a bit to come to terms with their desire to be there. They're all adults, so they could leave anytime, but choose not to.
How did you come up with the premise of the story and what appealed to you about it when you started writing? There are so many scenarios we spankos like to fantasize about. Why did this particular one speak to you?
RTD: It gave me an opportunity to tell a story from various points of view. It's also exciting, of course, to create a world where spankings are such a common thing.
I also thought it got to the heart of accountability and discipline, which a lot of people in the spanking community want, but it can be difficult to actually maintain that dynamic. In some ways it's easier for the characters in the book, mostly in their early to mid-20s, to admit that they need structure and guidance than it is to admit that they might just like to spank or be spanked. So in a way, it provides cover. The book is set in 2005 too. Sure, the Internet was around, but it wasn't quite as easy to meet like-minded people then. FetLife, for example, didn't launch until 2008.
I think there’s also something really intriguing about unchecked power. When you turn that over to someone, are they going to be responsible with it? What’s their true agenda?
ST: Absolutely. All spanko themes worth exploring. I know a lot of us like to fantasize about living in a setting where real disciplinary spanking is normal. I also dug the characters' different personalities and thoughts about the whole situation.
You and I have both written a fair amount of erotica. When I got started, it was challenging to open up and write about some of my most vulnerable or taboo thoughts. Has it been the same for you? If so, how'd you make it over that mental hurdle?
RTD: It has been challenging. At the same time, it’s been incredibly liberating. You’re definitely outing yourself as someone who thinks so much about this that you spend hours and hours writing about it. Sometimes that’s challenging for me to accept as well. Like, do I really want to focus so much of my time and attention on this? But I do think I’m in a good position to write about it. I’ve been into this a long time and have met and sometimes played with a lot of different people. I know the things that make us tick. Maybe it’ll help someone feel more understood and less alone. You definitely inspired me to actually do it.
ST: Ooh, don’t stroke my ego too hard, friend. It really chuffs me to hear that.
RTD: It’s true! But yeah, it’s vulnerable for sure. At the same time, the stories themselves are fantasy. It would be a huge mistake for people to think that the fiction you create is actually your story, or that the characters' actions would mirror your own. Just like it would be to apply that logic to a creator of other books, movies, music, etc. People forget that though.
We’re living in this very strange time where art is constantly on trial. They had to pass a law in California recently saying that a songwriter’s lyrics couldn’t be used against them in court. It's as if people have lost the ability to separate art from the artist. That bothers me. There’s this feeling like you have to create characters who say and do the right things or you run the risk of someone calling you out on it. Most likely in a bad review. It’s like, are the fantasies in your head that pure? Really? Sounds boring.
ST: Well, we’re certainly not alone as writers when it comes to this issue. Social media has everyone on trial these days.
RTD: Yeah. For the record, though, it’s all consensual and everything is on the up and up at the boarding house. They sign a contract and everything to live there. Mom and Pop wouldn't have it any other way.
Erotica should be fun and I have no shortage of ideas. The thing I find so liberating is that I don’t have the same filter I have with other kinds of writing. If I’m writing straight-up fiction, my inner critic goes nuts. Maybe the difference with erotica is that I know the story I’m telling and there’s always inherent drama. I tend to use two word titles. If I know the title and that it features spanking, then stories like Pool Party, The Professor, or Browser History tend to write themselves.
ST: What aspects of "the real you" would you say are present in your erotica? What elements of your writing reflect who you really are?
RTD: I’d say the real me is in everything I do, but I never lived in a boarding house that spanks or have a desire to operate one. The part of the book that’s probably most true to life is the romance that develops between two of the characters and the introduction of spanking into the relationship. The sweetness and humor, but also those moments when you really have to figure things out with this. What’s too little? What’s too much? Are they enjoying this? It’s a constant dance and I tried to capture that.
ST: Absolutely, and I think you did a great job reflecting the thought processes of those characters along the way. When you say the stories write themselves, I absolutely agree with that. Spanking scenes naturally lend themselves to fictional arcs. You've got the reason for the spanking in the beginning, leading up to the SEXY CLIMAX, followed by whatever happens afterward. It tends to unfold smoothly when you already spend tons of time fantasizing about it.
What might you say to any readers here who are interested in writing their own spanking erotica, but haven't taken the plunge yet? Any advice for them on getting over the fear of sharing? Or maybe advice on how they can capture things like that "constant dance" you mentioned before?
RTD: Writing is an act of discovery. I don't know where I read that or if a creative writing teacher told it to me, but it's so true. As you write, you’ll learn about the characters you're writing, but also about yourself.
I wish I could find this spanking short story I wrote when I was 21. It basically got my fantasy down on paper. I wrote exactly what it would look like, who I'd be with, and how it would be done. Two weeks later, that fantasy came true. I basically lived out what I wrote down. I'm pretty sure if I had never articulated it to myself I never would have had the courage to make it happen. So it's helpful to write, even if nobody else ever reads it. But damn, do I wish I could find that story. It was HOT.
ST: Holy shit! You are a master in manifestation, my friend! The hippies always say that to make a dream come true, we must visualize it as clearly as possible and align ourselves with that energy, as if we're already reaping the rewards of its occurrence. Something about frequencies in the quantum field and all that jazz. Wizard shit.
RTD: "Wizard shit" indeed. Oh also—write what you know. Otherwise other people will do it for you. Spanking must have been a buzz word at some point for erotica. People thought it would be a genre that would make them money. So while there is some great writing out there, there are also people who are writing about what we do who don't have a clue as to what it really is. By writing, you're representing us and what we're truly about. Yay.
ST: So true. I can always tell when I'm reading spanko erotica written by a spanko with real-world insights. That believability lends itself well to the suspension of disbelief we ask of our readers as we take them on these journeys through our imaginations.
RTD: Maybe I should write stories about other aspects of my life to truly test this manifestation thing.
ST: Yes, write about waking up and finding ten billion dollars in your bank account one day. Can’t hurt.
I have to ask... and hope the answer is yes... might there be a sequel in the future?
RTD: I think the book works as a standalone, but I originally planned for it to be part of a trilogy. I started writing the second one soon after I finished the initial draft of this one and got at least a few chapters done. I need to revisit it. But I definitely have ideas for the characters that go well beyond the scope of the book.
ST: Excellent! I look forward to hearing about those developments. Let's talk about you for a bit. What kind of spanko are you? What is the vibe of your spanko soul and how has that manifested (heheheh) in your life thus far?
RTD: I'm more of a traditional spanko. I really don't get into a huge variety of implements and I'm not into heavy playing. I love to roleplay and create scenes, usually domestic, that feel realistic. I love over-the-knee with the hand, with or without roleplay. That one's hard to beat. It can be a very intimate thing.
It has isolated me though, as I know it has for many people. It's made dating very difficult at times. But I think I'm luckier than some because my tastes aren't that extreme. I like to joke that I'm not into anything extreme, I'm just extremely into what I'm into.
ST: I love it. Yes, indeed. I think many of us relish the intimacy of that traditional, domestic, OTK experience. When and how did you figure out you had spanko sparkles in your DNA? When did you realize you had a bonafide fetish?
RTD: I think it's always been there. I always had a curiosity about it from a young age and was all ears when there was any mention of it. I was the kid who looked up the word in the dictionary and worried that it would naturally open to that particular page. By the time I was in high school and thought about girls more, it played a starring role in my fantasies. I remember being in class and hearing this girl whisper to me about her having sex with her boyfriend in a field outside after school. All I could think about was the farmer who owned the land and how he might spank her right then and there with her butt still bare if he caught her. After a while I became that farmer in my fantasies.
I don't know that I used the word "fetish" until sometime later, but I definitely knew I was into it and wanted to seek it out in my early 20s, and occasionally did. I was shocked when I first connected to the Internet when it was still a new thing and put the magical word in the search bar and found out there were groups and communities dedicated to this. I started being open about it to partners in my late 20s and began to meet up with girls for spanking sessions.
I didn't go to my first national party until 2015. That was pretty eye opening, just being in a room with people who had flown in from all over to be with like minded people. I had never met people whose social lives were built around it to that extent. After that, I started to explore even more. I think it's an interesting thing. Like, how deep down the rabbit hole do you want to go? Does it go from fetish to identity? I suppose I'm still wrestling with that question when I sit down to write about this thing we do for hours at a time.
ST: It is a good question, isn't it? I feel a pull to take on 'spanko' as an identity, but I'm also bisexual and feel no need to put any special attention on that label. I guess we take on certain labels as identities because we feel they represent us well, but that always comes with risk. Spankos are what we are, but not all that we are.
ST: What's your favorite thing about being a spanko?
RTD: I'd say it provides me with another way to connect with people, which I think is what we’re all looking for. When you share something you’ve kept hidden from most of the world with someone else, it can be a really positive thing. It also makes you talk up front about wants and needs when dating and getting into relationships, which is never a bad thing. It’s a blessing and a curse. It can set you apart for sure, yet the connections you make can be all the more intense because of it.
ST: I absolutely agree.
Last question: How can readers connect with you and find your fiction online?
RTD: People can find my stories on Amazon. They're all available digitally and on Kindle Unlimited, where you can read them for free if you're a member. I'm going to publish a print edition of Boarding House as well. I also have a website that's in need of some attention at otktales.com. People can get in touch with me there, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ST: Awesome. Well, thanks for telling us all about your book! I'll be waiting with bells on for the next one.
RTD: This has been fun. It's great chatting with you about all of this.
So there we are! Are you ready to take a crack at writing your own spanko novel, friends? I bet Boarding House would provide oodles of inspiration! Again, you can find it here on Amazon, along with all of Mr. Denom’s short stories.
You can also reach out to him on FetLife here. Don’t be shy! (But do be polite, if you know what's good for you. He spanks, after all.)
Happy reading, lovelies!